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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

NSW Transport rolls out automated pedestrian crossings to greater Sydney

Pedestrians are being told 'do not push the button' to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

NSW Transport rolls out automated pedestrian crossings to greater Sydney
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Transport for NSW has announced it will gradually roll out automatic pedestrian signal crossings that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the immediate vicinity of major health precincts across greater Sydney to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Transport for NSW Secretary Rodd Staples said the initiative is designed to protect frontline healthcare workers and those who are most vulnerable.

"We're introducing this initiative to minimise the spread of coronavirus in the community, especially for essential hospital staff, patients, and members of the community visiting the hospital," he said.

According to the state government, the first stage of the rollout will begin in Randwick at the Sydney's Children's Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital.

This will be followed by Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown; St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst; The Children's Hospital at Westmead and Westmead Hospital, Westmead; Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool; Nepean Hospital, Kingswood; St George Hospital, Kogarah; Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards; and Blacktown Hospital, Blacktown.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the decision to automate the crossings at traffic signals means pedestrians will no longer have to push the button at signalised crossings to safely cross the road.

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Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

It comes off the back of the same initiative that was rolled out across the Sydney CBD last week.

Automatic pedestrianised crossings were already in operation in the CBD between 7 am to 7 pm.

In Queensland, pedestrian crossings throughout the state will also be automated "as soon as possible", according to the state government.

The Queensland government said it would take two approaches when rolling out the automated pedestrian signals. The first would be time-based automated pedestrian signals where signs are placed above the button advising pedestrians of times at which automated controls operate; and the second would be fully automating pedestrians signals that operate 24 hours, seven days a week so they do not require pedestrians to touch the button at all.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said his department would roll out automated pedestrian signals where it is possible to do so, and would work with local governments to assist with the implementation.

"Throughout the course of a day, hundreds if not thousands of people touch pedestrian buttons to activate the crossing," he said.

However, a City of Gold Coast spokesperson has told ZDNet the council does not plan to introduce automated pedestrian crossing technology at this point but insists for people to practice "good hygiene" in public places.

Where pedestrian buttons are not able to be activated automatically, the state government said it would roll out stickers encouraging people to use their elbows.

Over in Victoria, all pedestrian crossings in the CBD and high pedestrian areas already operate automatically, and pedestrians are not required to push the button to be able to cross the road safely.

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